The above proverb immediately brought to mind the Tea Party movement. This group was initially created as a libertarian alternative to the GOP, but was quickly hijacked and has since focused none of its policies on those ideals. They quickly found a following in response to America's having even considered electing a black President. This consideration was bad enough, to be sure, but when he was actually elected, they completely lost their shit. Their leaders had a very singular objective: ruin this presidency at all costs. They met immediately upon his inauguration and decided that, no matter what, they would derail every one of his priorities. The right has always had the capacity to create chaos out of nothing, but not with the passion and unbridled hate that they began displaying at this time.
Out of desperation to ruin this President, they showed they were willing to do anything, including a decimation of their own reputations. They created a political movement that would be able to exist on the narrow agenda their politicians campaign on. To my mind, there are three types of Tea Partiers: there are the benefactors who benefit from the election of those who espouse the party's ideology, there are accidental members who vote for them whether or not they really understand or hear their campaigns (I associate those with people who generally walk in to a voting booth, check all of the "R"s and go home), and those who are activists. The activists are the ones who are out there with poorly spelled signs and who rally against their best interests every time they are given an opportunity. The accidental members are those who are ruining it for the rest of us. They literally have no idea what is going on and most of them, if they did, would no longer be voting for the Rs. The benefactors are mainly the wealthiest of Americans who find great relief in the movement because they have identified a large group of people who will always go to the polls and vote for whatever and whomever they are told. All they need to do is offer them leadership who spews as much hate as they do about the same things and they are a lock. Easy enough. So they fund those politicians and make sure they are on all of the news shows screaming as much nonsense as they possibly can. Not only does this get their base riled up, but it keeps their ideas in the news. This rhetoric is repeated and Americans soon become desensitized to it and consider it commonplace to hear people call their President the N-word. And that is really important in order to keep their constituency happy. And it is also very easy. They have their own cable network with the word "news" in its title, after all. And 77% of the Tea Party activists watch it exclusively.
It was very easy for the Tea Party to find an activist following because they spat out all of the ugly things that society deemed unacceptable. And those who had to keep their racism and hatred to themselves and were banished to the outskirts of polite society were now very excited to have found a place to unite. All that any politician had to do to win their votes was to spew hate and veil any insult toward the left in racist remarks. Of course, they could also use religion, education level and anything else that divided the majority of intelligent Americans from their followers, as well.
Those of us in America who could actually see what was going on watched what was happening and felt confident that it wouldn't last. We were naïve to believe that there weren't enough small minded people in the country to elect these politicians. But what we failed to consider in the equation was how completely gullible their followers were and how easily they would be led. And they were also the ones who were so excited to finally have a voice that they would go out of their way to not only vote, but promote ideas of keeping others from having the same right.
It was clear from the beginning that the politicians didn't even respect their constituents. On September 15, 2012, Rick Santorum was quoted as having said,"We will never have the elite, smart people on our side." This should have offended them, but he put the key word "elite" in there. That is one of their red meat phrases that they have learned to use as a propaganda tool to distract their followers from what they are really doing.
They sincerely need to be a part of something. These racist activists have been on the outside of society for so long and have been so isolated and so condemned that they would probably be willing to put up with a lot to feel the connection and unity of this fellowship that they were finally getting to be a part of. They have ignored the fact that they are repeating rants against themselves. They generally are the poorest of Americans, but they are continually condemning the poor. They rally around the 1% and their rights to do whatever they damn well please in a capitalistic society.
They are willing to oppose their rights to have health care because those leaders who offer them a safe place to be racist members of society tell them it is so wrong and unfair. THEY BELIVE THAT.
The Tea Party members are said to be the most religious of all political parties. And the overwhelming majority identify themselves as being Christian. Yes, that is funny. But they don't know that. They fail to see that the entire message of Jesus was being all about love and doing unto others and all of that. About a decade ago, these same people proudly wore bracelets asking, "WWJD?" Ill bet he wouldn't be at a Tea Party rally holding up a sign condemning other people. Most of them probably can't even define irony, so we can't expect them to understand when they are living it.
The activists are out in masses screaming about those nasty immigrants and demanding their immediate removal. No matter what! Even if the children were born here - just send their parents back then, I don't fucking care. They are so desperate to have people to feel superior to. And they hate the LGBT community. Just like the immigrants, it's just glorious to have someone's rights they can still take away.
So, knowing the needs of their small constituency, their politicians make sure to speak about little else. And, because these activists are not savvy or intelligent enough to see it, they are easily taken advantage of by those in power. I always visualize times when I was a kid and I used to play with a tennis ball in the back yard with my dog, Pepper. I would pretend to throw it and then hide it behind my back. That is what the Tea Party politicians are doing to their voters. They get them all excited about hating gays and Muslims and the poor and black "thugs" and fear of losing their guns and trying to prevent abortion and demanding birth certificates and getting rid of Obamacare that they miss the fact that the only thing they're doing in Washington is wreaking havoc on our democracy and accomplishing absolutely nothing on the promises they've made. Pepper was always too smart to be fooled. The Tea Party are not. They are so eager to have a place to belong that they don't see what they are doing to themselves and the nation they claim to love so much.